PRAY: A Missionary’s Response to Short-Term Mission Trips
I’m newly returned from my SUSIE Magazine/Never the Same trip to Ecuador and overflowing with stories about the great things God did there. I need to save most of those for the magazine so you won’t read many here!
Blogging and mission trips don’t seem to go together well for me. Internet tends to be sporadic and my days, long and full. Of course, I had good intentions of pre-posting (didn’t happen), posting during training (didn’t happen), and posting during the trip (you guessed it–didn’t happen). But before we return to our regular programming, I wanted to share a word received from a dear friend from seminary who now serves as a career missionary in Honduras. She had tried to post this as a comment on my “Prayer for Summer Missionaries” and was unsuccessful so I received her permission to include it here.
I don’t understand everything about the spiritual dynamic of mission trips. I do know that God talks about the importance of planting and watering as well as sowing and reaping. When I teach about prayerwalking, I remind people that sometimes our work is as much or more about preparing the soil than harvesting. Each aspect of a trip is important and, although we want to see people come to know Christ, we need to be aware that the timing belongs to the Lord. He is the One who draws people to Himself. And if our work moves them one step closer to true relationship with Him, it has value whether or not we get to see them cross the line.
Please read my friend Beverly’s remarks and add your own comments. Are short-term teams valuable? Do they hurt or help the work of career missionaries? Do they make an impact in the kingdom? Feel free to join the discussion!
As long-term missionaries, we’ve learned to value short-term teams. They are sometimes a breath of fresh air, sometimes a headache, have much to offer or are barely prepared, but at the end of the day there is a powerful spiritual dynamic in their presence.
We are faith missionaries, so some have asked, “Wouldn’t it be more useful to just send you the cost of the airfare and other trip costs?” While we never turn down God’s provision :), the answer is “no”. The truth is that when they, in obedience to God’s call, place their feet in our nation, they bring the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom, after all, is where we do exactly what the King says, including putting our passport to work.
Their obedience creates a dynamic in the heavenlies over our nation that results in the salvation of persons whom we haven’t been able to reach (even when the visiting team can barely communicate the most basic facts of the gospel). It’s not logical; it makes sense only in eternal terms, but it’s the truth. And we rejoice not only in what their submission to God sows in our nation but in the opportunity to sow into their lives as well.